Monday, April 12, 2010

The First Print Out

 A while back I set out to post a day-by-day account about creating a novel from the first, "OMG this is a great idea" to the reality of slogging through the middle to the end. In this case, I'm slogging backward, because if you read the earlier posts I wrote the end after I wrote the beginning.

I'm picking up at Day 11, and since I've had a long break in writing, this is the time for a printout. (BTW the Days I'm counting are only writing days, not those I'm off diddling around doing other stuff, like staring at the fish the blue heron hasn't snatched yet.)

I usually do a single spaced draft and carry it outside or to another room. Somehow switching where I sit while I'm editing helps me pick up glitches or logical gaps. Sometimes it helps me find a better way to weave in a thread or to dig into a character a bit more deeply.

For me a printout is still the best way to read in large chunks and to "get" the flow of a piece. I seem to be able to figure out if I'm building the tension or letting it sag, if I'm bringing out what I want in a scene or missing the heart of it, and if I'm generally heading toward that end that I wrote last month. I also realize that this is not going to be the last time I go to paper, so when I start to read at this point in the process, I'm not looking for any details like punctuation, spelling or grammar. I'm out to get the BIG PICTURE.

If you want more information about how the experts proofread, here's a good checklist from ehow that you might bookmark.

So this is the day for cranking up the DeskJet and using another $30 in ink. Have you noticed that the cheaper the printers, the more expensive the cartridges?


  1. Maybe I should try writing the ending first - my idea of how my MS should end is rather vague, but it's a little clearer than the rest of it. Regardless, it sounds like you're doing some good work, Lee!
    - Mike Jung

  2. Yes, I have noticed that about those dang printers. AND the price of the cartridges keeps going up!
    I agree, too, about printouts. You just see it differently than on the screen. So we have to suck up the cost, I guess.

  3. My process is similar to yours. I see things differently on the printed page.

    Good luck with your project!

  4. Yep, I like a hard copy. I widen those margins and print on both sides to save a bit on paper.

  5. I used to print off a hard copy for every draft, but I've discovered I'm a better writer and editor when I work off the computer. I do print off the occasional copy, but nothing like I used to.

  6. I save the print out for when I'm stuck on the big picture or my butt is numb and I need to go someplace else for a while. Paper is so nicely portable--no batteries, no wires, no auto-correct.

  7. My cartridges cost $30 too. I print on paper that's already been used on one side for something else. Interesting about switching locations. But I think the computer matters too. I write well on it, yet something about that cursor says "hurry up, hurry up!" To slow down and think, longhand works better, except I hate to scrawl in longhand anymore.

  8. Yep, noticed that hardcopy works wonders for me too. It's the old teacher with the red pen psychology, i think.


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